caliber” and fired from a rifle. To cast further doubt on the theory that the shot came from the Junior-Senior dormitory is the fact that several persons near Kuba failed to notice the terrible whack that normally accompanies a ricochet, which, owing to the angle of fire, would have had to strike near them. A bullet from Lanier Hall could have reached Kuba by ricocheting at a more distant point, but the gunman probably would have had to expose himself on an open walkway in a most obvious manner, and one would guess that the muzzle blast of an apparently large-caliber weapon would have contrasted noticeably with the popping of the students’ .22’s. The police found no rifle of any kind in the dormitories only a 12-gauge shotgun \( that must not have seen much action, judging from the absence of shotgun urday night specials.” The police have proof that students were able to slip on and off the campus during the five-hour ordeal, and they “have no doubt” that some of the students’ weapons disap peared in this manner. But for a student to have slipped out with a rifle at the very last minute, as the police were fast closing in from both sides, as they were when Kuba was shot, would have been an extraordinary escape. Finally, the spot where Louis Kuba was standing was most vulnerable to any ricochets off the front of Lanier Hall, fired from the opposite end of the street. And all night long police Ml carbines had been throwing plenty of “larger than .22 caliber” copper-jacketed lead. To deepen the mystery, and the above suspicions, the police are conspicuously untalkative about the shot that killed Kuba, as are newsmen who normally enjoy playing detective, especially in Houston. The most anyone will say is, “Just one of those things we’ll probably never really know about.” One waits to hear, “We hope.” ALL THIS speculation is more intriguing than illuminating; and it is propaganda to the extent that it fails to put the “mysterious bullet” in its proper context of darkness, commotion, and confustion that could obscure a ricochet or the noise of a gunshot. But it is a possibility that the police and press are-ignoring, if not rejecting, to their equal discredit as sources of objective truth. At least one segment of the Houston population must have chuckled wryly at Mayor Welch’s advice that citizens ignore rumors and rely for their information on “the impartial, unbiased, inde , pendent members of the press who were at the scene.” The most frightening thing about the entire TSU episode is that Houston’s biased white press and its prejudiced white police force seem to have played into the hands of the city’s black propagandists. The gap between the races has been, and is being, turned into a gorge. In the past the civil rights struggle in Houston has been hobbled by apathy and complacency; in the future it could be crippled by violence. TSU may change too many minds too much. 0 A Context for Tragedy Houston Houston seems like a psychotic person; he doesn’t know he’s sick, so isn’t taking steps to deal with his problem. This is the way one Houstonian, an administrator at embattled Texas Southern University, has expressed the race relations situation in this city. The same point was made often, in various terms, by numerous persons of all sorts in speaking to the Observer about the traumatic night of May 16-17. Others who were interviewed believe the city fathers are more aware of the racial dilemma than they may appear but are fearful of acknowledging the situation lest the social dynamite explode in their faces. A third theory is that the leaders of this city are simply unwilling to concede that changes in Houston’s social order are at hand. Those concerned about race relations here are almost unanimous in saying that the city government and civic leaders have not been responding to the intensifying anguish of the rapidly-growing number of Negroes who live here. The most frequently-heard estimate is that 300,000, one-fourth of the city’s population, is black. The Observer, in contacting the mayor’s office to discuss the situation, was referred to Ken Fairchild, an aide. What esponse, Fairchild was asked, will the Lay make to the outburst at TSU? “We will continue with plans that have been in effect in the past,” Fairchild said. No special response was envisioned by city officials, he indicated, since “we didn’t learn anything from this that people haven’t known for years.” He added that there is doubt that the TSU disorder rep 6 The Texas Observer resented an expression of Houston’s Negro community. What has the city been doing in the past to improve the lot of the Negroes who live there? Fairchild said that the mayor had appointed a committee to see to elimination of bad housing. “The Bottoms Project” will be continued; this refers to a program designed to improve part of the Fifth Ward, the worst slum in Houston, which is located just across Buffalo Bayou from downtown. Street paving, construction of sewer lines, tutoring, recreation, and other community services are envisioned. Fairchild says a similar program is planned in another Negro neighborhood, but he couldn’t say where, at that time. Also, Fairchild continued, a Manpower Development Training project is planned for this summer to train 3,000 workers, and a youth opportunity program will be continued whereby young people are employed during the summer to work with the park department. Houston was among the last of major U.S. cities to get into the War on Poverty, and the effectiveness of the program has been an object of considerable doubt here. It seems apparent that the Negroes in the poorest parts of town are feeling almost no impact of the effort; many of them say they haven’t even heard of a poVerty war. “The war on poverty is not effective because we face the same problem as the [activists] at TSU have,” one staff member of the community action program told the Observer: the city government and civic leaders are not really interested in social change in Houston. “The war on poverty could be a way to channel the energies of Negroes, but it would annoy the mayor and the city councilmen and eventually they’d have to admit that things have not been. right here,” the poverty warrior said. The poverty war situation is also on the mind of the Rev. William Lawson, a Negro leader and a Baptist minister whose church is near TSU. “Part of all this [unrest among Houston Negroes] stems from the war on poverty. We say ‘community action’ but then they run up against city hall.” Programs are thought by city officials to be the only answer, Lawson complained, adding that he believes the poverty war is a “smokescreen” that hides the real problem in Houston’s ghettoes, the absence of money and, most important of all, the lack of self-esteem. THE QUESTION of self-esteem does appear to be a pervasive one in the Negro neighborhoods and apparently is at the root of many of the most frequently-voiced complaints there. Based on a number of interviews by the Observer it seems clear that many Negroes are convinced that city and school administrators are indifferent to their problems and lack understanding of them. The police are understood by Negroes to be raciallyprejudiced. The few Negro policemen are not generally respected by other Negroes and are thought by many to be involved in rackets, such as running numbers games, among other things. One gets the feeling, in talking to Houston’s Negroes and their sympathizers in the white community, that there is a yearning for some sign of good will, of understanding, on the part of the city’s white leaders. This was sensed again and again in demands that the Sunnyside
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